Apex Energy Australia
Custom solar & storage solutions
Business View Oceania interviews Paul Stallan, Founder & Managing Director of Apex Energy Australia, for our focus on Growth of the Energy Sector in Australia
From its home base in Melrose Park, South Australia, Apex Energy Australia leads the way in design, construction and installation of solar and battery storage infrastructure projects around the country. Apex Energy Australia was established in 2009 and has quietly grown into a national supplier of client-focused solar and storage solutions in homes, light industrial areas and regional locations. Together with its sister enterprise, Apex Communication Technologies, the companies directly employ a South Australian team with a wealth of experience delivering on- and off-grid energy storage projects. Both companies are proud to be 50% indigenous South Australian owned.
Paul Stallan, Managing Director of Apex Energy Australia, recounts, “Our existing business, Apex Communication Technologies, had been around since 2004, so we’d been contracting for quite some time. We founded Apex Energy Australia around the solar industry to provide solutions to people’s power needs. Those issues mainly revolve around two things; 1. rising electricity prices and 2. unreliable or no electricity supply.
Today, Apex Energy is busy with remote, off-grid designs and construction in a niche market where companies are looking for power in a remote area currently serviced by the power grid or where companies are looking to reduce their operational expense by substituting a generator for solar and battery storage solution. Apex Energy will provide companies with a design that best fits their needs. In a remote solution, Apex Energy will provide a containerised solution built offsite to provide a better cost-effective solution. Most recently, the team has been building out in the Cooper Basin. They accomplished all the pre-staging in the workshop, built up the containers and completed Factory Acceptance Testing, effectively cutting installation time on the site in half. It’s a smart approach of manufacturing; getting all the hard work done in a controlled environment and then performing a plug and play approach onsite.
Apex Energy primarily works in outback Queensland and outback South Australia, with a small amount in the Northern Territory. According to Stallan, “We spec various products and brands in our designs to suit the application. It could be lithium, super caps, or something else, but generally that application will be suitable to the load for the customer’s requirement. We have a wide selection of products and brands available to us, which provide greater flexibility in design. Santos natural gas company has been a great supporter to both Apex Energy and Apex Communications over the years. We work directly and indirectly for them – they are a great organisation and we are very grateful for all they’ve done for us.”
Falling solar prices have noticeably improved the ROI of commercial solar systems, to the point where systems are now paying themselves off in as little as two to three years. In that regard, the Apex Energy team designs a system and creates a tailored proposal for a business based on energy consumption, time of use, system size, location and unit energy costs. High quality solar panels and inverters with ten-year minimum product warranties offer peace of mind, and Apex Energy workmanship is also warrantied for five years. In addition, all commercial solar systems are provided with in-depth monitoring as standard so that energy consumption can be adapted to better suit solar generation.
The Apex group jointly employs more than 60 people, including many talented project managers supporting all areas of the business. A unique aspect of their work force is the flexibility and cross skilling between companies, as they employ multiple people that work between the two businesses. A combined work schedule, using similar scheduling tools for both companies, maintains efficiencies and provides the ability to handle more projects. For example, during a dip in the energy side of the business last year, some workers were moved into Apex Communications and now they’re helping install fibre optic cable, and installing conduit. Then, as energy projects ramped up this year, a crew from Apex Communications helped install solar panels on roofs and install batteries.
“What’s important for us is attitude and aptitude,” says Stallan. “People that just want to turn up and do the best they can for the business. At the end of the day, if they’re skilled to do that, great. If not and they’ve got the attitude, as long as you’ve got the training resources, you can get them skilled. We’re really lucky at Apex, we have a high retention rate. We continue to hire people who want to work. We are continuously investing in our work force by providing training to further knowledge and skill sets. Our people are our greatest asset and we continue to invest. Good people are sometimes hard to come by, so when you meet hard working people with the right attitude, we invest in them. My experience shows employment is a two-way street. If everyone’s communicating and both the employee and company are keeping their end of the deal, it’s a long-term vision.”
At any one time, Apex may have eight to ten apprentices working through both businesses. Over the last five years, they’ve had three apprentices win the National Apprentice of the Year award. Not many businesses can say that. Stallan notes, “We generally employ an apprentice as they are completing their apprenticeship. This provides the business with a known person with a skill they have acquired from working with our people. We are keen to grow the business and provide an opportunity for the next generation. Our workforce is quite diverse as we support indigenous people within our workforce. Our splicing crew consists of men and women. Our first woman employed as a senior tradesperson commenced in 2017.”
As for the solar industry in the coming years, Stallan forecasts that wattages will continue to go up in solar panels. More unmanaged lithium ion batteries will hit the market that can be racked and stacked and controlled by smart equipment. He adds, “For our business, the target market is remote environments. We’re a renewable power generation engineering company providing solutions for remote communities, pumping stations, generator replacements, oil and gas applications – those who need design and construction for their application. Oil and water pumping facilities are very interested in what we’re delivering currently in the renewal sector, considering the significant cost saving benefits to having panels and batteries in place versus constant fueling and maintaining a generator.
“Anyone can install solar, but there are only a few people who truly understand how to integrate solar with batteries to actually get them to last the test of time and maximise the investment. Our Technical Manager and leading industry expert of over 25 years, Colin Lord, is one of the best in the solar industry. Our confidence is in Colin’s training and guidance to provide the right design for the application. A good design will provide the basis for a good outcome.” Having the skill, understanding, logistics, and the people that know how to deploy these solutions is a unique industry offering. Add to that a superb quality of service and support, and Apex Energy Australia is the obvious and best choice.
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AT A GLANCE
Apex Energy Australia
What: South Australia’s leading renewable energy provider
Where: Melrose Park, SA